Author: Daniel J. Harrison, Esq.
In June 2020, a statewide grand jury found that Pennsylvania failed to protect its citizens from the fracking boom that began in 2008.
The two-year investigation uncovered systematic failure by government agencies, mainly the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, in overseeing the fracking industry and fulfilling their responsibility to protect Pennsylvanians from the inherent risks of industry operations. When fracking goes unchecked, and regulations aren’t enforced, nearby residents suffer severe consequences.
The report revealed that many Pennsylvania residents who live near unconventional drilling sites suffered from serious health issues and property damage. Residents testified that their well water was “black sludge,” “cloudy,” and using the contaminated water caused “problems with breathing whenever we were in the shower.”
Pennsylvania farmers testified that their livestock, which used the same water source as the families, would sometimes become violently ill, infertile, and die.
Other residents spoke of problems with their air, which became so polluted from chemicals used during fracking operations that they could not leave windows open or let their children play outside.
Combined with resulting property damage and constant noise, light, and even flooding from the well operations, these communities were undoubtedly living a nightmare. For some, the nightmare continues.
The report announced eight recommendations to protect Pennsylvanians from fracking risks and to confront the culture of inadequate oversight in the unconventional gas industry. These recommendations include:
- Expanding no-drill zones in Pennsylvania from the required 500 feet to 2,500 feet
- Requiring fracking companies to publicly disclose all chemicals used in drilling and hydraulic fracturing before they are used on-site
- Requiring the regulation of gathering lines used to transport unconventional gas hundreds of miles
- Adding up all sources of air pollution in a given area to accurately assess air quality
- Requiring safer transport of the contaminated waste created from fracking sites
- Conducting a comprehensive health response to the effects of living near unconventional drilling sites
- Limiting the ability of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection employees to be employed in the private sector immediately after leaving the Department
- Allowing the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General original criminal jurisdiction over unconventional oil and gas companies.
Only time will tell if these recommendations will protect nearby residents, but, if the government won’t, Pogust Goodhead will.
To read the full report, please click here.